Sunday, September 10, 2017

Ric Flair Again Overcomes The Giant

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Like all fans of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, I’ve followed the ongoing medical issues of “Nature Boy” Ric Flair with great concern. Reports on Ric’s battle for his life had trended much more positive in the last few days, and a short video just released by Flair himself strongly suggests that in true Nature Boy style, the champ has kicked out on two and three quarters. In this real life medical drama, it appears Ric slew the most gargantuan giant that ever crossed his path.

Mark Eastridge Collection

When Ric’s health scare was at its worst several weeks ago, and his very survival was in dire jeopardy, many thoughts raced through my mind. After all, I’m the guy who had “RFLAIR” on my Virginia license plate for 17 years! But of all the memories I’ve had of the Nature Boy beginning in 1974, the one that kept coming to mind was a local Richmond, Virginia promo that Ric cut in advance of a Richmond Coliseum card on October 14, 1977.

In the main event of that Richmond lineup, Ric Flair battled Andre the Giant for Flair’s United States Heavyweight Title. Much of what Flair espoused in that promo came true inside the ring in Richmond. Ric somehow overcame that “Giant” wrestling obstacle, and my hopes and prayers were that he could pull off a similar miracle in 2017 in real life in an Atlanta area hospital room.

Announcer Ed Capral began the Richmond main event promo with a large drawing of Andre standing taller than the New York City skyline as a backdrop saying, “On Friday October 14th this great man, and you’re covering the picture just a moment, Andre the Giant the eighth wonder of the world is against the U.S. Champion for the Title, of course Ric Flair.”

The Nature Boy shot back immediately, “You had that right, when you said this great man I walked into the picture! Because everybody in Richmond knows who the greatest is. Now let’s face it, Jim Crockett has finally, REALLY, come up with an opponent that MIGHT make me break a sweat!”

A fired up Flair continued, “Let me tell you somethin’ Andre the Giant, I’m an athlete, America’s greatest athlete. I’m a wrestler, and I’m a double tough dude. And I don’t care if you can’t walk and chew bubble gum at the same time, I don’t care what you can do or can’t do. You’re just another name, another man who’s gonna fall before the Nature Boy and his gold belt! Andre the Giant, you’re just like everybody else, you’re gonna find out!”

While Andre technically got the win by disqualification, Flair walked out of the Richmond Coliseum with the United States Title belt still around his waist, a win of monumental proportions against an opponent seven feet four inches tall and weighing 450 pounds…a giant in every sense of the word. Yes, Ric got over against the Giant, where all the odds seemed stacked against him.

Fast forward nearly forty years later, and there can be no doubt that Ric Flair is still a double tough dude as the recent events in his Atlanta area hospital have amply proven. The odds were stacked against him there against a foe that would make Andre the Giant look like a midget wrestler. And the Nature Boy, version 2017, showed us all that he is still up for a fight against all odds and overcoming giants…maybe no longer in the squared circle but in the larger game of life.